Eric Rickstad: What Remains of Her Saturday, Sep 29 2018 

Eric Rickstad’s psychological thriller, What Remains of Her, is at once a tense, chilling mystery, as well as a probing look at secrets held for decades.

Jonah Baum is a mild man, a poetry professor with a difficult childhood he’s put behind him. Married to the lovely Rebecca, with a young daughter, Sally, his small Vermont town suits them all.

Sally’s best friend is the Sheriff’s daughter, Lucinda, who had sworn to keep Sally’s secret about what the two girls saw in woods where they shouldn’t have playing.

But does a promise made in friendship hold when that friend and her mother suddenly go missing?

As the search for the missing mother and daughter escalates, lives are torn apart with suspicions, especially Jonah’s.

Forward 25 years to the anniversary of the disappearance, and Jonah has become a hermit, living in seculsion, when a young girl who reminds him eerily of his daughter shows up in his woods.

Is she a real being, or borne out of his desperation and grief?

It will take Lucinda, now the small town’s deputy Sheriff, to figure out exactly what’s been happening, and what really happened all those years ago.

A taut thriller, filled with a creeping sadness, this is throughly unsettling and fantastic when it comes to revealing human nature.

Moving, and very atmospheric in the unsettled landscape, a character in itself, this one riveting read. Highly recommended.

Paul Doiron: Stay Hidden Thursday, Sep 27 2018 

Paul Doiron’s Mike Bowditch series reflects the beauty and hardiness of Maine. He returns in a new mode for Bowditch in Stay Hidden, when the newly promoted Warden Investigator receives his first case.

Maquoit Island is isolated, and at first Bowditch isn’t surprised that a flash of white clothing has caused a deer hunter to mistake that for a deer, fatally shooting a woman.

But the hunter in question denies the shooting, and when the ballistics don’t match his rifle, he’s cleared.

Suddenly the accidental death appears far much more, especially when Bowditch learns Ariel Evans was an investigative journalist. She was supposed to interview and research the islan’ds hermit with a view to writing about his past life.

Bowditch confronts his most secretive community yet, and his efforts are thwarted.

And then the dead woman alights from a ferry, unharmed. It’s a case of mistaken identity, but it soon becomes clear the murderer thought he was killing Ariel.

The two will team up to find who wanted her dead, and why.

With taut action against the backdrop of the rugged terrain and sometimes walls of fog, this is a strong entry in the Bowditch series.

Allison Brennan: Abandoned Monday, Sep 24 2018 

Allison Brennan’s newest thriller, Abandoned, revolves around her investigative reporter Max Revere, about to tackle her most important case yet: finding out who murdered her mother.

Martha Revere will never win awards for Mother of the Year, and indeed she leaves Max with her grandparents after dragging the young girl around the world without formal schooling.

Postcards sent from Martha’s travels erratically are the only clue the young woman has when she decides to put her cable show on hold to find out why those cards stopped coming seven years ago.

With her only clue her mother’s disappearance from a small Chesapeake Bay town sixteen years ago, Max heads there, renting a cottage and determined to find the truth.

She will find that Martha was with a true con man before her disappearance, and they lived off Martha’s trust fund income and what they swindled from others they’d duped.

And when the FBI indicates they have an active investigation into the con man, Max knows she’s on the right track.

Where her probing leads her is straight into the heart of long-held secrets, from her family and others, with surprsing twists in store. Along the way, Max learns about creating a family.

A strong entry in Brennan’s cannon, with interesting characters, an idyllic setting, and a twist of romance to sweeten the plot.

End of Summer Roundup: Sunday, Sep 23 2018 

Welcome to Auntie M’s summer roundup. Before the leaves start to turn in earnest, here are a stack of books for your reading pleasure to end the summer season:

Stephen Leather’s Spider Shepherd series have made the author one of the UK’s most successful thriller writers. In Tall Order, he’s putting his photographic memory to good use in the Met’s SuperRecognizer Unit but chomping for action.

Being able to spot faces better than a computer should be enough to keep him busy. But a suicide bombing occurs at a football stadium, and Spider soon finds himself caught up in what can only be termed a silent revenge mission.

Soon Spider is teamed up with the only person who can identify the man behind this attack, a ruthless terrorist who’s already been blamed for an American airliner crash. Teaming up with Navy SEAL Dean Martin, who can recognize the terrorist, Saladin, the two set off to track the terrorist and his cell on the Afghanistan/Pakistan line.

With his consistent action scenes, Leather creates a fast-forward tale. A gripping entry in this dependable series.

An avid dog lover, Auntie M has long been a fan of David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter Mysteries. He returns with Rescued, where the defense lawyer finds himself doing less and less lawyering in order to work more on his rescue, The Tara Foundation.

But it’s no surprise to readers when he finds himself involved in a murder case, but with a surprsing twist: the defendant, accused of the murder of the driver carrying dogs from the South to a rescue in the Northeast, hits too close to home.

The accused murderer is Andy’s wife’s old fiance`, Dave Kramer. And worse, he’s admitted he killed the victim, but claims it was in self-defense. One thing ex-cop Laurie is certain of is that Dave Kramer needs a good defense lawyer. Over to Andy . . .

With his trademark humor keeping things on track, Rosenfelt has created a nice duo with Andy and Nick and their extended family and friend–and don’t forget the dogs.

Carola Dunn’s 23rd Daisy Dalrymple Mystery, The Corpse at the Crystal Palace, finds the amateur sleuth trying to entertain her young cousins. It’s 1928, after all, and there’s plenty to take them to, including the Crystal Palace, once Daisy finds out her own nanny has never been there.

Things happen quickly when Nanny Gilpin visits the first ladies ‘convenience’ room and doesn’t return. When Daisy goes to see where she is, she instead finds the another woman dressed as a nanny–only this one is dead.

To make things worse, her own nanny is found unconscious, and has amnesia as to how she became that way, and why she would abandon Daisy’s 3 yr-old twins.

With DCI Alec Fletcher on board, and Daisy helping, the husband-and-wife duo are certain to get to the bottom of this mess.

The sixth Flavia Albia mystery, Pandora’s Boy, contains all of Lindsey Davis’ attention to historic detail, wrapped up in a mystery.

Ancient Rome comes alive, filled with betrayals. It’s a difficult situation when Flavia’s new case is brought to her attention by heer husband’s ex-wife, who is unhappy to be there in the first place.

After a young girl is poisoned, Flavia sets her investigative eyes on the most likely person to have poison, local witch Pandora. Supposedly plying her trade in beatuy products, the same herbals can often be used in more dangerous ways.

It’s a tale of brutality and betrayals that will have devastating effects close to home for Flavia.

For fans of the first century, that era comes alive.

David Bell’s Somebody’s Daughter offers a race against time when a young girl goes missing. That timed pressure ratchets up the suspense in this well-written tale.

When Michael Frazier’s ex-wife shows up unexpectedly, the last thing he expects is for her to tell him her young missing daughter is also his.

It’s a bittersweet moment because Michael and his wife, Angela, have been experiencing fertility issues. As the Frazier’s each become involved in searching for missing Felicity, the pressure rises.

It doesn’t help that Michael lost a sister when she was young, and he’s blamed himself for her death since.

As the hours pass, secrets held for years will be forced into the open, while a young girl’s life dangles in the balance.

With short chapters and alternating narrators to add to the tension, readers will find it difficult to know whom to trust as the story unravels.

Aline Templeton: Human Face Thursday, Sep 20 2018 

Aline Templeton’s DI Marjory Fleming series is one of Auntie M’s favorites, so it was with great anticipation that she dove into the first of Templeton’s new series, Human Face.

Featuring DI Kelso Strang, dealing with the after effects of a life-changing accidnet, he’s sent to unravel the case of a missing woman on the Isle of Skye.

The isolated landscape in the shadow of the Black Cuillin range proves threatening to Strang and matches his bleak mood. He’s been sent to followup on the disappearance of a housekeeper, Eva, at Balnasheil, the isolated manor that houses the charity Human Face, which helps bring food and medical care to Third World children.

The charity’s founder and biggest donor, Beatrice Lacey, is a woman with her own secrets; enigmatic co-founder Adam Carnegie has charmed her with the promise of a life for them together. They live together but separately at Balnasheil, across the bay from the small town.

When Strang finds out Eva is actually the second housekeeper to disappear, the case becomes a probable murder investigation–until a confirmed murder happens on the premises, throwing Strang and his cobbled-together team into a whirlwind case.

Strang’s a believeable protagonist, needing the responsibility of the case and decisive position to blot out his memories. But he also becomes an unwilling mentor to a young PC determined to prove her chops as a budding detective.

A nicely twisted plot, weather that turns on a dime, landscape that functions as more than a setting, and complex characters hiding secrets all add up to grand mystery.

This debut promises the new series will bring all of these hallmarks that make Templeton’s books ones that have won a legion of faithful readers.

Rea Frey: Not Her Daughter Wednesday, Sep 19 2018 

With a strong debut, Rea Frey’s Not Her Daughter forces readers to examine their feeling about mothering, and if everyone is cut out to be a good mother.

Five year-old Emma Townsend is missing. A lonely child whose father is emotionally absent, her mother could be called cruel. Amy Townsend is not a good mother and is aware of it. Does she want her child to return?

Sarah Walker is desperate to be a mother. Abandoned by her own mother, she find herself in the role of kidnapper. She takes Emma far away and the question that centers the book is: is it truly kidnapping if Sarah has rescued Emma from a mother who doesn’t want her?

While on the run together, Emma bonds with Sarah in a way she never has with her biological mother. It’s an emotional journey for the them as well as a harrowing physical one.

With flawed but believeable characters, Frey manages to keep the suspense up while challenging readers to examine their feelings about motherhood. A clever and compelling debut sure to resonate with readers long after the last page has been turned.

Wendy Corsi Staub: Little Girl Lost Sunday, Sep 16 2018 

Award-winning thriller author Wendy Corsi Staub debuts the first in a new Foundling series with Little Girl Lost.
Staub’s latest, Little Girl Lost, is the first book in her new Foundlings trilogy, where lives become intertwined and secrets are kept.

It’s the pre-dawn hours of May 12, 1968, a Mother’s Day Calvin Crenshaw won’t soon forget. As janitor at Harlem’s Park Baptist Church, his work is interrupted by a whimpering sound coming from the choir stall.

He finds a baby there, wrapped in a small bundle. Having been unable to conceive a child with his wife, he makes the fateful decision to claim the infant girl as their own.

Elsewhere in New York City, an elusive serial killer known as the Brooklyn Butcher has been slaughtering families in their beds, leaving one young female survivor at each scene.

These seemingly disparate events are anything but that, under Staub’s skilled thriller writing.

Flash-forward to March 7, 1987 when college student Amelia Crenshaw makes the shocking discovery that she is a “foundling”—somebody that was abandoned by his or her birth parents to be discovered and cared for by another—as her mother lays dying of cancer in a hospital bed.

Both shocked and griefstricken, she vows to unlock the secrets of a past she never suspected she had—despite her father’s refusal to discuss the details of her supposed adoption.

NYPD Detective Stockton Barnes is grieving, too. He’s shown up in earlier novels, but now as his mentor and surrogate father wastes away, he receives a legal notice that a one-night stand he had is now pregnant with his child.

Barnes uses a new case to distract him: the disappearance of millionaire Perry Archibald Wayland III, whose supposed suicide may have been staged.

How Amelia and Barnes search for individual answers intersect bring them to a killing spree that harkens back to the Brooklyn Butcher.

Staub’s characterizations are vivid, with Amelia and Barnes providing the counter views of a youn girl who’s the product of an unwanted pregnancy, contrasted with Barnes being the cause of one. This emotional weight resonates with the reader.

Staub uses the backdrop of 1980s New York City to life through her depiction of landmarks and locales, as well as references to pop culture and politics. It’s a subtle thing but one that hints at the depth of her research—and that elevates the story.

Filled with twists and turns, Little Girl Lost is a suspense story that will leave readers looking for the next installment.

Michael Robotham: The Other Wife Friday, Sep 14 2018 

Micahel Robotham’s Professor Joe O’Loughlin is one of Auntie M’s favorite characters, ever. The psychologist struggling with Parkinson’s and grief, trying to parent his two growing daughters, has his shaking hands full again in The Other Wife.

When the call comes that his well-known and respected surgeon father, retired but still admired, has suffered an horrific attack and had to have brain surgery, Joe rushes to the ICU to find a strange woman, covered in his father’s blood, at his bedside.

This is the woman who found William O’Loughlin lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs of the home she claims they share when William is in London, away from the home he shares in Wales with his wife of sixty years and Joe’s mother.

Olivia Blackstone is William’s other wife, married in a Buddhist ceremony, and bringing her own baggage along.

If it’s a shock to readers, we can only imagine the shock Joe must feel as he absorbs this radical new view of his father–the distant, cool man who raised him contrasts sharply with photos Olivia shares to prove their relationship.

This other man is smiling, brighter, happier than Joe has ever seen him. But regardless of the painful reality of his father having led two lives for over twenty years, comes the stark realization that someone wanted him dead, and the suspects start to mount up. It doesn’t help that the lead detective on the case doesn’t like Joe, which adds to the complications.

Counting on his good friend, retired police detective Vincent Ruiz, Joe will try to keep his daughters safe even as the younger, Emma, has her own struggles with the loss the previous year of her mother. With older sister Charlie now studying psychology at Oxford, Joe will lean on her to help Emma as he turns to tracing his father’s movements and the behavior that led to this attack.

There are even more surprises as the plot twists and take unexpected turns, but one thing readers can count on is Robotham’s ability to make them care about Joe and his family. There is even a small sense of triumph with the resolution of his father’s situation, one readers will smile at as it reveals Joe’s own human side.

This writing is exceptional. There is a huge sense of the author understanding human emotions and frailties, and being able to translate that to the page in such a subtle way that readers will wish, somehow, that Joe O’Loughlin was their friend. It’s why Vince sticks around, and Charlie and Emma love him. You will, too.

Auntie M is always moved by Robotham’s last chapters. Always.

Highly recommended.

Sarah Pinborough: Cross Her Heart Monday, Sep 10 2018 

Sarah Pinborough’s psychological thriller Cross Her Heart takes domestic suspense to a new level in this tale of strong women and the secrets they hold.

Lisa loves her teenaged daughter, Ava, with a bit of although her helicoptering style chafes Ava as she’s sixteen now. Ava is closest to her friends from the swim team, while Lisa’s colleague and best friend, Marilyn, tries to convince Lisa to allow Ava a bit more freedom.

But with freedom comes issues Lisa is worried about, with good concern. Always skittery and shy, Lisa is finally starting to relax, just as the promise of a new relationship is dangled in front of her, when things start happening that button her up all over again.

Then Ava becomes something of a local hero when she rescues a young boy from a potential drowning, only Lisa’s past life surfaces and changes everything she’s fought so hard to contain these past years.

As her true identity emerges, anxiety and tension rises with each passing chapter. As if a dream, Lisa must confront the issues of her past–but this isn’t a dream, it’s her life and it’s happening to her, and to Ava, right now.

There are surprises, and just as readers think they know what’s happening, they will realize they really don’t. Promises made and promises broken is the thread here, with startling results. A powerful read that is at once highly visual, Cross Her Heart has already been opotioned for a television series, with good reason.

Ellison Cooper: Caged Sunday, Sep 9 2018 

Welcome to the world of FBI neuroscientist Sayer Altair, coming to grips iwth a personal tragedy even as she delves into her research into the minds of serial killers.

Then an horrific crime scene in Washington DC becomes Sayers newest investigation. A young girl had been slowly starved to death, held in a cage like an animal.

That the victim is the daughter of a US senator means Sayer is suddenly in everyone’s crosshairs.

Then a second girl is taken and Sayer must up her game to find the obsessed killer behind these kidnappings and deaths. Partnered with agent Vik Devereaux of Crimes Against Children, they find little evidence but a video that is as graphic as it is strange.

It’s a public relations nightmare once the senator gets involved, too, as the team races to find the second girl. The action heats up and the tension rises with each page. Readers who like their forensics and what lurks in the mind of a serial killer will keep flipping pages.

A strong debut.

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